Unique situation on introducing chicks

foLk

In the Brooder
Sep 7, 2021
23
12
26
Okay, so I am really new to raising and owning chickens, I've never had any experience with them before this, one day this black chicken with a red comb showed up in my backyard with two very small babies, I'm used to having my neighbors chickens in my backyard but when I noticed she would freak out if any of the other hens/roosters would get near I decided to look closer, I found she was really beat up and so I started trying to earn her trust by putting corn out and walking away, eventually she trusted me and would follow me all over when I was outside, I nursed her and the chicks back to health and really fell in love with them, and a couple weeks later I went outside and her chicks rushed up to me and I knew something bad had happened because she was an excellent mama, somehow she had gotten over our fence and the neighbors fence on the other side of my house and got attacked by his dogs, I had to drive her to a vet to try and save her but horribly her damage was too extensive...since then I've built her chicks two coops and decided to take on raising them, I also let my wife and kids pick out four more female chicks, the two babies are outside and the 4 chicks are inside, the babies are now 11-12 weeks old and the inside chicks are 3 weeks old, at some point I'm going to have to introduce them and I'm just wondering how to do this, when to do this, and if it's going to even be possible?

(Sorry for the long read) any help would be greatly appreciated
 

Callender Girl

Crossing the Road
Sep 18, 2018
3,092
17,990
766
North Central Iowa
First of all, bless you for taking time to earn her trust and caring enough to take her to a vet. You clearly have a good heart.

It will be possible for all the chicks to get along at some point. I'd wait until the littles are older; they really grow pretty fast, so the size difference will lessen fairly soon.

Many people will tell you that the see-but-don't-touch method is the best for introducing new birds. They are kept close but have a safety barrier -- of chicken wire, for example -- to protect the smaller birds when everyone is in a run.

When I had new chicks this spring, I installed a "poop board" (which goes under the roosts so poop doesn't hit the floor) that was just high enough off the floor that the smaller chicks (Cochin Bantams) could slip underneath to escape the full-sized girls, if need be.

When I'm trying to integrate new birds into the free-ranging (daytime only and only when I'm home) group, I toss grapes as treats. Everyone is so focused on getting her own snack that picking at the new girls isn't important.

Still, expect there to be squabbles. Chickens will always create their own pecking order. It's totally natural, but hard to watch. As long as no one is bleeding, I don't intervene.

Good luck with your new girls, and keep posting on the progress, please!
 

Tankueray

Bird Nerd
Premium Feather Member
Feb 12, 2021
187
438
116
West Texas
There's not a huge age difference between them, so it won't be that difficult. You now have 6 eventual chickens, so they will need a coop of at least 24 square feet and 6-12 linear feet of roost. If you don't free range them, you'll need to add a large run. Build as big as you can, you'll probably end up with more than 6 within a year (it's a thing, we're nearly all guilty of it.) 🤷‍♀️

Because the big coop might take you a while to build, you could put them all in there at once one night after dark so they all have a new home and new roomates to wake up to. Otherwise, you'll want the younger ones out of your house by 6 weeks, they will cover everything in dust and dander and you won't be able to stand it any longer. As long as your weather isn't freezing, they should be okay outside by then but they'll still be small enough to be bite sized to the neighborhood cats and many other smaller predators. (Dogs and raptors will always be a thing, coons and other wild animals too if they're around you.)

The easiest way if the older ones are already acclimated to the coop is to make sure the younger ones have a separate roost they can all share, and put them in with the other two in the evening when everyone is roosting (make sure they've all had their evening meal first, everyone will be much less active after dark if they have full crops). Make sure not to dally when letting them out in the morning, and give everyone some scratch, pour it on the ground in a line so they don't fight over a pile. They'll go about their day and probably ignore each other for the most part, but you'll want to watch them going to roost for a few days just to make sure they're not just acting like they get along when you're not around.😁

Depending on where you're located and how mechanically inclined you are, there are some easy and inexpensive options for building a bigger coop, or complicated and expensive ones, totally up to you, but the most important thing is to build something that is good for your climate and number of chickens. (Most of the pre-fab coops you can buy locally or online do not have the capacity that they claim to, don't waste your money.)

Welcome to the party!
 

3KillerBs

Enabler
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
10,588
27,098
1,066
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
Welcome to BYC. What a remarkable story! Where, in general, are you located? Climate matters.

Here are some useful articles on integration:

https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/integrating-new-birds-at-4-weeks-old.72603/
https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/my-coop-brooder-and-integration.74591/
https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/introducing-new-chickens-using-the-“see-but-don’t-touch”-method.67839/
https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/adding-to-your-flock.47756/

Here are The Usual Guidelines about housing:

For each adult, standard-sized hen you need:
  • 4 square feet in the coop (.37 square meters)
  • 10 square feet in the run (.93 square meters),
  • 1 linear foot of roost (3 meters),
  • 1/4 of a nest box,
  • And 1 square foot (.09) of permanent, 24/7/365 ventilation, preferably located over the birds' heads when they're sitting on the roost.
The math for 6 chickens:
  • 24 square feet in the coop. 4'x6' is the only really practical build for this given the common dimensions of lumber. If you can't walk into it, put the access door in the middle of the long side to make sure you can reach all areas of the coop because a stubborn chicken WILL press itself into/lay an egg in the back corner where you can't reach.
  • 6 feet of roost
  • 60 square feet in the run. 6'x10' or 8'x8'.
  • 6 square feet of ventilation.
  • 2 nest boxes, to give the hens a choice
And a really excellent article about why these are *guidelines* not hard-and-fast rules: https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/how-much-room-do-chickens-need.66180/
 

Tankueray

Bird Nerd
Premium Feather Member
Feb 12, 2021
187
438
116
West Texas
I definitely prefer more roost space because mine like to play frogger at night or all the sudden everyone wants to sleep by the roosters/no one wants to be around them. It's quite funny. When it's hot at night, they like to stand with their wings out, or sometimes one will lay sideways and take up all the space. It's like having a bunch of 3rd graders.

I've tried many styles of brooders and built 5 styles of coops in the last year. My favorite so far was the very first, a 6x11 hoop coop. You can see a few of them in the images link on my profile. I'm happy to answer any questions about them. (The short one was a duck house, it went over like a lead balloon.)

@foLk Just start asking questions and everyone here is more than helpful with ideas, experience, and advice. You can also spend many hours getting lost in the gallery and article areas.

Something you're going to want to find out soon is whether you have a rooster hiding in your two hatched chicks. One of my breeds starts crowing around 11 weeks and I can tell M/F at 3-4 weeks; one of my other breeds is really hard to tell even at 16 weeks, and doesn't start crowing until 18 weeks or more. I currently have 5 roosters and have just hatched a ton of chicks, the majority of which are the really hard to tell kind. 😳😬 Another very good reason to have a ton of room available for everyone!
 

WendyTestaburger

Chirping
Jul 7, 2021
75
61
81
You're a good person for taking in the baby chicks and trying to save the mama hen.

We are in the thick of integrating our 6-8 week old chicks with our 12 week olds. The see but no touch method seemed to work really well. Sprinkling food on the barrier so they get used to eating side by side helps a lot. I read that space is the social lubricant which is accurate 😅. Also clutter your spaces to allow for chick size openings for them to weave through to escape big chicks. We have folding stools off Amazon that work great for this. I used the top of their brooder which is a solid wood piece as a sort of half wall which I also read here will kind of cause the bigs to forget about the littles when they're not in sight - and that works great. You'll want separate feeders and waterers.

I'd recommend going by your feels lol. If you feel safe with 1 week of see but no touch then try it out, if you have to wait 3 weeks that's fine too. Just do what feels safe to you. Understand there will be pecking no matter what you do, it sucks but it is what it is. Things to look out for are ganging up, chicks being cornered (fix your clutter!), pecking near the vent area, blood, excessive chasing/stalking. Any of those red flags and I'd go back to see no touch. We had a chick lose a feather and intermittent pecking but nothing worse.

Good luck!
 

foLk

In the Brooder
Sep 7, 2021
23
12
26
Thank you all so much! My current chicken count is up to 10 now and the four from tractor supply are 6 weeks tomorrow and moving out to the coop! Also I'm in California and my wife and I are building our third coop, the advice and resources here have been so valuable, thank you for your help
 

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